In a bid to stop the series of food poisoning incidents due to the ingestion of tainted candies to school snacks, environmental and health groups called for food safety vigilance to ensure quality and safe food for all.
“We call upon the government to uphold the safety and welfare of the consuming public by the full implementation of laws that govern the safety of food,” said Rene Pineda, President of Consumer Rights for Safe Food.
Pineda specifically pointed to the need to accelerate the effective enforcement of Republic Act 10611 and its recently promulgated Implementing Rules and Regulations.
Also known as the Food Safety Act of 2013, R.A. 10611, among other measures, aims to “establish policies and programs for addressing food safety hazards and developing appropriate standards and control measures.”
“The rise in food poisoning cases affecting young children, the most vulnerable population group, warrants the speedy implementation of R.A. 10611, including the establishment of the Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board, which is tasked to prepare crisis management plan and lead food control activities,” he added.
For his part, toxicologist Dr. Romy Quijano, President of the Pesticide Action Network – Philippines underscored the need for “vigorous public education, multisectoral dialogues on food safety issues, and the conduct of continuing monitoring programs for food manufacturers and food business operators” to prevent food poisoning incidents.
EcoWaste Coalition Coordinator Aileen Lucero identified immediate action steps that should be carried out to promote food safety vigilance among government, business and consumer stakeholders.
“We suggest that all flag-raising ceremonies across the country this coming Monday be used by government and school authorities to drum up personal and collective consciousness and action towards food safety. It’s a good platform to disseminate policies and measures to prevent food poisoning,” she stated.
“Next week, we also hope that government officials from Health Secretary Janette Garin down to local mayors will go into the streets and conduct on-the-spot food safety inspections. We need to see them in public to assure our people that every step is being done to guarantee public access to safe food,” she said.
“The government should also ensure that no stone is left unturned to resolve recent food poisoning cases and that the culprits are duly penalized,” she added.
The EcoWaste Coalition further urged local health departments to organize food safety seminars targeting all food business operators, including cottage food industries, school canteens, restaurants and street vendors to reiterate safe and hygienic food manufacturing and handling practices,” she added.